Americans Helping Americans Abroad

Position Papers - 2014

Citizenship of Children Born Abroad

All Americans should enjoy an equal right to transmit U.S. citizenship to their children at birth, including children born to or adopted by a U.S. citizen abroad. Children born abroad should be defined as "natural born" U.S. citizens. We propose alleviating conditions for recognizing children born abroad as U.S. citizens, in particular for unwed American mothers by modifying Sections 301 and 309 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to make transmission of U.S. citizenship possible in the following cases:

  • Allowing unwed American mothers the possibility of EITHER a one-year continuous U.S. residence OR a five-year U.S. presence, at least two of which were after the age of 14. There can be cases where the mother has five years of cumulative U.S. presence but not one full continuous year as required by present law. Changing the law would allow unwed mothers the possibility of transmitting citizenship in either case.
  • Recognizing children born abroad as citizens at birth if EITHER the American PARENT has satisfied the five-year U.S. presence requirement (at least two of which were after the age of 14) OR the American GRANDPARENT has satisfied the same five-year U.S. presence requirement. At present, U.S. citizenship is recognized at birth if the American parent satisfies the five-year U.S. presence requirement. Furthermore, it is possible to have a child NATURALIZED as a U.S. citizen if his/her American grandparent satisfies the five-year U.S. presence requirement. Changing the law would make this "naturalization" automatic by having the child recognized as a U.S. citizen at birth if either the American parent OR American grandparent satisfies the five-year U.S. presence requirement.


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